To Die Before My Death

Long before the snow began melting
on this mountain, there were deer paths
etched through the thin forest
and the fragrance of a distant fireplace filled the valley.
Be still here long enough
and one begins to awaken.

Down from the slopes of the Kittatinny Mountains,
the northeast winds rake through the fields
of broom grass, brushing aside the leaves
that cover the shallow graves of small animals
— exposing the alchemy of turning bones into dust.

This is where dead leaves are pushed
from awakened branches
into the awaiting flames
of the green ferns;
this is where time becomes timeless,
my darkness endless,
where a cold rain falls.

To be reborn into the sunlight
is to shed the woefulness that infects my mind;
it is to die before my death.

Spring snakes across the Appalachian Valley,
through these mountain paths
lined with Crimson underbrush;
it’s no secret
spring comes to deliver us,
and, surprised as always,
I succumb.


Poem by Jack J. Chielli

Jack J. Chielli is a writer living in Frederick, Maryland. He has an MA in poetry from Wilkes University and a BA in Writing from Roger Williams University. He has been writing since he was very young, in fact wanting to write is his first memory. He was editor of his collegiate literary magazine, Aldebaran. Jack also was a journalist for many years before working in politics. He is currently in higher education where he is a vice president of enrollment management, marketing, and communications. His poetry is forthcoming or has been published in Plainsongs, the anthology project Keystone: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania. Martin Lake Journal, Schuylkill Valley Journal, EcoTheo and Coal Hill Review.